Tables

A table presents data as a scrolling, single-column list of rows that can be divided into sections or groups. Use a table to display large or small amounts of information cleanly and efficiently in the form of a list. Generally speaking, tables are ideal for text-based content, and often appear as a means of navigation on one side of a split view, with related content shown on the opposite side. For guidance, see Split Views.

iOS provides three styles of table: plain, grouped, and inset grouped.

Plain. Rows can be separated into labeled sections, and an optional index can appear vertically along the right edge of the table. A header can appear before the first item in a section, and a footer can appear after the last item.

Partial screenshot of the More tab in iTunes Store app, which uses a plain table to list several items.

Grouped. Rows are displayed in groups, which can be preceded by a header and followed by a footer. This style of table always contains at least one group and each group always contains at least one row. A grouped table doesn’t include an index.

Partial screenshot of Driving and Navigation settings for the Maps app, which uses a grouped table to list types of roads to avoid separately from items to be shown in navigation.

Inset grouped. Rows are displayed in groups that have rounded corners and are inset from the edges of the parent view (as shown on the right of the image above). This style of table always contains at least one group and each group always contains at least one row and can be preceded by a header and followed by a footer. An inset grouped table doesn’t include an index. The inset grouped style works best in a regular width environment. Because there's less space in a compact environment, an inset grouped table can cause text wrapping, especially when content is localized.

Screenshot of Sound settings on iPad. The left view is a plain table of top-level settings in which Sound is selected. On the right is the Sound settings detail view, which uses the inset grouped table style to separate settings into three groups.

Think about table width. Thin tables can cause truncation and wrapping, making them hard to read and scan quickly at a distance. Wide tables can also be difficult to read and scan, and can take away space from content.

Begin showing table content quickly. Don’t wait for extensive table content to load before showing something. Fill onscreen rows with textual data immediately and show more complex data—such as images—as it becomes available. This technique gives people useful information right away and increases the perceived responsiveness of your app. In some cases, showing stale, older data may make sense until fresh, new data arrives.

Communicate progress as content loads. If a table’s data takes time to load, show a progress bar or spinning activity indicator to reassure people that your app is still running.

Keep content fresh. Consider updating your table’s content regularly to reflect newer data. Just don’t change the scrolling position. Instead, add the content to the beginning or end of the table, and let people scroll to it when they’re ready. Some apps display an indicator when new data has been added, and provide a control for jumping right to it. It’s also a good idea to include a refresh control, so people can manually perform an update at any time. See Refresh Content Controls.

Avoid combining an index with table rows containing right-aligned elements. An index is controlled by performing large swiping gestures. If other interactive elements reside nearby, such as disclosure indicators, it may be difficult to discern the user’s intent when a gesture occurs and the wrong element may be activated.

For developer guidance, see UITableView.

Table Rows

You use standard table cell styles to define how content appears in table rows.

Partial screenshot of Settings, which uses the plain row style to display an app icon followed by the app's name.

Basic (Default). An optional image on the left side of the row, followed by a left-aligned title. It’s a good option for displaying items that don’t require supplementary information. For developer guidance, see the UITableViewCellStyleDefault constant of UITableViewCell.

Partial screenshot of Notifications settings, which uses the subtitle row style to display an app's icon followed by the app's name. Under the app name, the selected types of notification styles are listed as a subtitle.

Subtitle. A left-aligned title on one line and a left-aligned subtitle on the next. This style works well in a table where rows are visually similar. The additional subtitle helps distinguish rows from one another. For developer guidance, see the UITableViewCellStyleSubtitle constant of UITableViewCell.

Partial screenshot of Notes settings, which uses the right detail value one row style to display a list of viewing options. The title of each row identifies an option, such as sort checked items, and the subtitle identifies the selected value, such as manually.

Right Detail (Value 1). A left-aligned title with a right-aligned subtitle on the same line. For developer guidance, see the UITableViewCellStyleValue1 constant of UITableViewCell.

Partial screenshot of a contact card in editing mode. The ringtone and text tone items use the left detail value two row style to display the item followed by a button labeled Default.

Left Detail (Value 2). A right-aligned title, followed by a left-aligned subtitle on the same line. For developer guidance, see UITableViewCellStyleValue2 constant of UITableViewCell.

All standard table cell styles also allow graphical elements, such as a checkmark or disclosure indicator. Of course, adding these elements decreases the space available for titles and subtitles.

Keep text succinct to avoid clipping. Truncated words and phrases are hard to scan and decipher. Text truncation is automatic in all table cell styles, but it can present more or less of a problem depending on which cell style you use and where truncation occurs.

Consider using a custom title for a Delete button. If a row supports deletion and it helps provide clarity, replace the system-provided Delete title with a custom title.

Provide feedback when a selection is made. People expect a row to highlight briefly when its content is tapped. Then, people expect a new view to appear or something to change, such as a checkmark appearing, that indicates a selection has been made.

Design a custom table cell style for nonstandard table rows. Standard styles are great for use in a variety of common scenarios, but some content or your overall app design may call for a heavily customized table appearance. To learn how to create your own cells, see Customizing Cells in Table View Programming Guide for iOS.

For developer guidance, see UITableViewCell.